NASCAR becoming haven for Indy winners

NASCAR becoming haven for Indy winners

NASCAR becoming haven for Indy winners
indystar.com

Buddy Lazier will make his NASCAR debut Saturday when he competes in the Craftsman Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

But here's the kicker. When Dario Franchitti is officially confirmed to Ganassi Racing's stock car program, which is expected to happen this week, NASCAR will have more former Indianapolis 500 winners (five) than the Indy Racing League (three).

The IRL has Helio Castroneves (2001-02), Buddy Rice (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005). It could also welcome back two-time winner Al Unser Jr. at next year's 500.

Like Lazier, Jacques Villeneuve (1995) will be making his Truck Series debut in Las Vegas. Villeneuve is expected to make his Nextel Cup debut in next month's race at Talladega, Ala., with Bill Davis Racing.

Already in NASCAR is 2000 Indy winner Juan Pablo Montoya.

Sam Hornish Jr., the 2006 winner who failed last weekend in his first bid to earn a starting spot in a Nextel Cup field, hasn't formally announced the switch to NASCAR, but he is expected to make it official later this fall.

Why the surge? Part of it is attributed to job availability. There are at least six times as many opportunities in NASCAR, which has three national divisions.

"That's it, more seats," said Lazier, whose only race in the past 14 months was this year's Indy 500. "I don't know the intentions of other people, but I just want to go racing. For me, it's the start of something different."

Lazier hopes to parlay the opportunity with Billy Ballew Motorsports, with whom he first tested in 2005, into more races.

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